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Not Everyone In Class On MLK Day

January 16, 2012, 5:31 PM by Kelly Bartnick

Not Everyone In Class On MLK Day
SIOUX FALLS, SD - He was the face of a movement that granted equal rights to African Americans.  But for the first time in a long time, the Sioux Falls School District held classes on Martin Luther King Junior Day.

The day gave some teachers an opportunity to teach King's legacy. But some families sat out. 

"Think about who was Martin Luther King? What did he stand for, and what do you stand for?" Patrick Henry middle school teacher Lisa Peterson said. 

The day is history for Peterson too, as Sioux Falls Schools kept the doors open.

"It's the first time in a long time we've had school," Peterson said. 

"It's nice to have a day off of school," eighth grader Jordyn Goetzinger said. "But it's also nice to be able to learn about it here, whereas if we didn't have school, we'd just not do anything about it."

So Goetzinger didn't mind going class. Martin Luther King Junior Day was one holiday the district eliminated from its calendar this year in favor of a later start date.

But not all seats are full here at the school. Some parents here deliberately pulled kids from class to celebrate the holiday.

"Many people fought for this day. And I feel it should be acknowledged," parent Cherta Braud said.

Braud kept two children at home. Her sister and friends did the same thing because she said wiping the holiday off the calendar was the wrong decision. Seventh grader Marcal Slack lives with Braud and says he's spent the past few days learning more about King at home.

"It was very disrespectful to treat people that way," Slack said. "They had to drink out of different water fountains and stuff."

"I want him to understand the sacrifice that took place, so that we can be where we are today. I don't want him to forget that part of history that is so very important," Braud said.

So whether the classroom is at home, or at school this year, the man who fought to change history is the one still doing the teaching.

"Look at how youth got involved in making changes in the Civil Rights Movement and how using peaceful protest that Martin Luther King was able to make a difference," Peterson said.

Braud hopes the Sioux Falls School board reconsiders Martin Luther King Jr. Day when it plans future school calendars. She said she may even lobby for that change. 

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